MirandaNet Newsletter No 25, October 8th, 2017
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Germs -  Spreading the word in India. Image Credit; Sarah Younie   

Something unusual happened this week: a book for review plopped onto my doormat. This triggered some thoughts about the ways in which publication has changed since the 1980s. Even publishers tend to send me a .pdf on an email.
In this context, the Times Education Supplement this week reported on the lack of text books in the schools. According to this article, most teachers, most of the time, are downloading lesson content from the web and photocopying worksheets. Teachers made powerful arguments in the piece both for an against the use of text books. Yet despite, or maybe because of the emphasis on text books by politicians, their use in the classroom is falling.

The contribution that members make to the MirandaNet Fellowship website is varied indeed. We review about six books by members each year which means that books are not disappearing altogether. However, the Knowledge Hub categories indicate how many routes professionals now have to communicate their experience to their colleagues. We invite classroom studies, but we also publish members blogs and newsletters as well as the collaborative whitepapers and consultations responses we submit. Gaia Technologies have been helping us to increase our video output and short videos seem to be an important advance in the way that professionals present and access knowledge. What is excellent is the opportunity that professional now have to publish directly to their colleagues..and they will be learning from the exercise of making themselves clear to others.
So back to the book as a means of sharing knowledge. In fact, I rarely read a book for pleasure. I get through about two novels a week by listening on my iPhone while I am ironing or cooking or engaged in other domestic tasks. But books about edtech rarely come in audible form. Would it work? Academics are famous for using too many words, and academese is a language all of its own. We are all adept at navigating through a paper book, much harder in an audible version. Might be good as a sleeping cure.
But the book that landed on the mat was the story of Niki Davis’s professional learning journey in edtech professional development that deserves explaining at length. I have reviewed the book here believing that many of our members will be interested because we have all inspired the theoretical framework that she has built to help us to explore and analyse our own experience of teaching, leadership and research. Indeed sometimes we do need a full thesis or a book to explain and to persuade rather than 140 characters.
Do students also need the experience of a text book alongside all the other inputs so that they can follow the logic and go backwards and forwards in assimilating the knowledge? I’m really not sure that we should dump textbooks yet.

Professor Christina Preston
Founder MirandaNet
Using digital resources to fight germs in India

Germs -  Spreading the word in India. Image Credit; Sarah Younie   
A ‘Germ’s Journey’ is a package of innovative educational resources for young children (3-5 years) to learn about germs and hand washing and how this links with their health. A interactive book and website with games ( have been developed by a multidisciplinary team (microbiology and education) at De Montfort University. The concept of germs is difficult for pre-school aged children to understand, because they are invisible to the naked eye, so bridging this gap in children’s knowledge is essential. Workshops have been developed for delivery to children of 3-5 years in order to reinforce their learning of washing hands, this includes the book, website, colouring downloads and hand washing activities. Posters and books are also being created for developing countries.  Professor Sarah Younie and Dr Katie Laird took the innovative and interdisciplinary GERMS JOURNEY resources (interactive book and Website) out to INDIA, where we worked with the Gandhi ashram and in the slums with the children and also out in the villages. Here are some photos of the children washing their hands, and a photo of teachers and community workers that we are training to use the results is, when we delivered the session at the "Sanitation Institute".

Dr. Sarah Younie, Professor of Education Innovation, De Montfort University, UK.
Gaia  & Christ the King Primary, WW1, multimedia work
Pupils from Christ the King Catholic Primary School in Birmingham have been experiencing what life might have been like on the front lines during World War 1 whilst developing their literacy and historical enquiry skills. As part of their project on Warhorse, the 49 pupils wrote poems and letters home as if they were soldiers in the trenches, created newspaper reports and researched life in the war. Following an initial meeting with the Gaia team they then planned, scripted and rehearsed their acting parts, ready for Gaia’s film and sound crew to arrive and turn it into a broadcast quality short film.

Read more here.
Read more here.Back to contents

DMU’s sector-leading support for students wins high praise
Earlier this year, DMU received praise from both the Department for Education and HEFCE for the support we offer our students, including DMU Replay, which gives access to recorded audio and visual content from staff-led lectures and classes. DMU Replay was introduced in October 2016 and has proved to be an overwhelming success, with students viewing uploaded content more than 500,000 times since its launch. DMU Replay provides students with easy access to content from academic-led sessions to use as a revision resource as well as supporting those with different learning needs and styles. These can range from international students for whom English is not a first language, to students with a specific learning difference or disability, to those with various learning challenges such as dyslexia. With DMU Replay, students can revise taught material in the way which suits them best, whether it’s replaying a recording of a class or adapting written material shared in class using specialist software.

In light of the positive responses, DMU has committed to roll out DMU Replay to all students from September 2017, two years in advance of the original plan. You can read the DMU Replay Policy here along with DMU Replay Equitable Alternatives, which offers practical options and defines the processes available to colleagues to support adherence to DMU Replay policy. DMU Replay is part of a wider initiative called Universal Design for Learning (UDL) at DMU, which aims to provide all students with a wider variety of ways to engage with their learning and teaching experience and helps support lecturers in addressing the different learning styles of individual students wherever possible.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Andy Collop said: “We aim for the student learning experience at DMU to be at least on a par with the best in the higher education sector, and we are delighted that DMU Replay has received such a positive response from our students.” Mollie Footitt, Deputy President Education at De Montfort Students’ Union (DSU), said: “DSU sees this as a great initiative that will benefit all students including disabled students, international students, and any student who wishes to revisit teaching sessions in their own time and at their own pace.”

'Experts' welcome again: a new OFSTED Head of Research 
Amanda Spielman, the new Chief Inspector for OFSTED gave a talk to teachers at the ResearchEd Conference in London on September 9th in which she told the teacher delegates that she wanted OFSTED to become a research hub. Amanda invited debate, managed to generate a warm atmosphere in the room, raised a few laughs and gained a respectful clapping at the end. I was encouraged by her attitude and hope we can talk to her about research in EdTech. 

Terry Freedman was there and he has given more detail about her address here and the new OFSTED head of research appointment, Daniel Muijs, of Professor of Education and Associate Dean Research and Enterprise, Faculty of Social, Human and Mathematical Sciences, University of Southampton.


The Sword of Damocles

Source Modern Mechanix

This image, from Modern Mechanix, of the earliest known VR Device (image dated 1971). The text is quite interesting and prescient;
"Slip this display device on your head and you see a computer-generated 3-D image of a room before your eyes. Move your head and your perspective changes, just as though you were actually inside the room. Architects could use the device to draw buildings in three dimensions; realtors could use it to show buyers the interiors of homes without even leaving the office. Dr. Ivan Sutherland, University of Utah, invented the device, essentially a computer-graphics version of the old stereoscope."
Comments in the article link to a wikipedia entry which names the device as the Sword of Damocles, and dates it to 1968. Modern Mechanix is a superb source for technological history and ephemera and predictions that never quite made it. 
Call to participate in international survey on behalf of MESH
We invite all MirandaNet colleagues to participate in our International survey on behalf of the MESH. and our international network of educators investigating your access to research evidence to support your practice.

The survey is designed for teachers/teacher educators/student teachers in any country, of any school phase, and any subject. The goal is the open sharing of research knowledge relevant to teaching worldwide. It should take no longer than 10 minutes to complete. To change the language, press the Google translate button on the survey.

Improving the quality of education in every country is a United Nations priority through the new Sustainable Development Goals. The data will inform the UNESCO Teacher Task Force meeting in September.  The more data we have the more chance there is of providing, free of charge, research-based knowledge to teachers regardless of their location. Please pass this on to colleagues.
Many thanks for your time and support.
Sarah, Marilyn & Richard on behalf of MESH, Mapping Educational Specialist knowhow. 

Call for articles
The call of our common project - monothematic issue "Education Futures for the Digital Age: Theory and Practice" was published here Our task is now to spread this information among good potential contributors who could prepare an interesting article for this issue. Please, circulate this opportunity to prepare articles related to this call. Our next work depends on a quality of contributions. 
Mirka Cernochova

Digital Technologies and Change in Education  
The Arena Framework: Routledge

In this book, Niki Davis, now Distinguished Professor of E-learning at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, generously tells her story about what she has learnt about teacher education in EdTech since the 1980s and from whom she has learnt. What she presents in this book about her own journey is the milestones that influenced the development of her theoretical framework – the Arena(see picture in folder). This is a tool for our own exploration and analysis of our own experience of teaching, leadership and research. She tells the story of her learning journey through case studies and research evidence in which she has been involved. As the Arena has developed over the years I have found this framework immensely valuable in understanding the local, regional, national and global forces that impact on edtech professional development project. In every professional community, local to global, there will be a great leader, like Niki, who leads change with empathy. But these leaders do not all write their experience down so busy are they promoting achievement. I commend Niki for influencing change herself, but also for making sure that we have a tool to use to replicate the change process. She makes it clear that it is not about what we are teaching but about how we take others with us.

This is an important book. If you place yourself in the professional edtech community, you should read it!  

Lifelong Kindergarten: Cultivating Creativity through Projects, Passion, Peers, and Play.
Resnick, M., 2017. MIT Press:
Review by David Longman, 7th October 2017

I was disappointed when I began this book. I had expected to read more about the genesis and development of Scratch along with other interesting background about the brilliant work of the Lifelong Kindergarten group led by Mitchel Resnick.

I put it aside for a day or two after I decided that this was yet another homily about the stultification of ‘natural’ human learning caused by organised but inauthentic schooling. Sure, it’s all there in the book’s title. The four P’s? Cultivating creativity? Kindergarten? 

So after reading on a few more pages I realise that is probably one of the most interesting books I have read for a while. Far from disappointing after all. Resnick describes a framework for learning that is well grounded in many years experience, has generated some stunning learning resources (all free to use), and has consistently pursued important core values about how we learn. But if you are looking for useful ideas or examples of programming with Scratch you won’t find any in this book. On the other hand it’s a useful and practical text because what we have here is a curriculum planning framework. And wherever schools and curriculum developers are concerned about how to embed ‘digital literacy’ into their curriculum time this book could provide a solid framework for action.

However, this book does assume at least a passing knowledge of the online Scratch community, as well as some grasp of how Scratch itself is used. Some readers might be less than satisfied that Resnick provides only ‘soft’ qualitative evidence about the effectiveness and outcomes of his kindergarten approach. He makes use of participant interviews, one to close each chapter, and many anecdotes of selected Scratch projects or events to illustrate the 4Ps at work.

As Resnick recognises, it is the social affordance of technology that has changed profoundly since the pre-Internet days of Papert’s Logo, the early work with Lego and the Computer Clubhouse. If teachers and students do not participate in the online community will they miss important opportunities for making learning more interesting, creative and fun? For Resnick the answer has to be ‘yes’ and while there is nothing to say against the use of small-scale local, perhaps school-based online communities, why would you do that? The Scratch community is free to join and has a large number of active members (for some usage statistics see here). There are few, if any, infrastructure issues for schools and teachers to be concerned about (apart from good Internet access from with the school).

Thus the real value of this book lies in the recipe it offers (the 4 Ps) along with some key ingredients such as Scratch, the online community, hundreds of stimulus resources, and useful guidance on the role of the teacher-mentor (e.g see Ch.6).  This is a recipe not a set of instructions so there are many variations a professional could come up with adjusting and adapting as experience is built up over time. It’s a creative spiral after all. Curriculum change is not a ‘five minute job’. If something like the Lifelong Kindergarten approach can be made to scale across a region

Read David's full review here.

In-ear live translation
Ubiquitous throughout Science Fiction books and films, and of course - the Babel fish in Douglas Adams and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, real time speech translation technology is now becoming a reality as reported by Ars Technica. The implications for language teaching and multi- national education are significant.

Teach a Machine without coding 
The Teachable Machine lets kids, (or anyone), explore machine learning works, in a fun, hands-on way. You can teach a machine to using your camera, live in the browser – no coding required. You train a neural network locally on your device, without sending any images to a server. That’s how it responds so quickly to you. Watch this video to learn more.

The First X rays
Atlas Obscura tells the story of Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen’s classic image that helped him win the Nobel prize for Physics in 1901. "It is a ghostly picture of her hand, unlike any ever taken before, with long, shadowy finger bones and a large dark wedding ring. The image is the first radiograph, a photograph exposed by X-rays instead of light, ever taken"  Like all emerging technologies there also had some negative effects as the dangers of x rays were not realised.
You are not alone
Matt Lucas meets a childhood hero

Matt Lucas finally met his childhood hero, Duncan Goodhew, while appearing on The One Show. Matt who lost his hair due to alopecia when he was six recalls how he was supported by the Olympic swimmer.  With many children being bullied due to appearance, race or personality; this clip sends out an inspiring  and positive message we can all build on and share. 

This month we are pleased to share some online resources and articles looking specifically at Digital and Internet Literacy.

Web Literacy for Student Fact Checkers
The information that reaches students through their social media streams. For these daily tasks, student don’t need long lists of questions to think about while gazing at web documents. They need concrete strategies and tactics for tracing claims to sources and for analyzing the nature and reliability of those sources. Web Literacy for Student Fact Checkers is an online book with a hyperlinked Table of Contents that allows readers to get to exactly the advice and strategies that are required for vital aspect of digital literacy.

The Challenge That's Bigger Than Fake News
Whilst fake news, and  can be detected by tools such as Snopes, Sarah McGrew, Teresa Ortega, Joel Breakstone, Sam Wineburg, from the Stanford History Education Group, explain that :"the Internet is filled with content that defies labels like “fake” or “real.” Determining who’s behind information and whether it’s worthy of our trust is more complex than a true/false dichotomy" Their article is a must read.

Can digital literacy be deconstructed into learnable units?
Here Doug Belshaw explains that Digital Literacy is actually made up of  a number of literacies, and that they are context dependent, and that is also a developing process in which one doesn't suddenly become digitally literate overnight. "Some teachers/mentors/instructors seem to think that those learning digital literacies require a long, boring history lesson on how things used to be"

The 'newsletter' format seems  to be increasing in popularity and many bloggers, consultants, educators and content providers are using the format. Below are a few of our favourites.
  • Thought Shrapnel; by Doug Belshaw covers is a free, informative, off-beat weekly newsletter focused loosely around education, technology, and productivity; latest issuesubscribe 
  • Quinlearning; A weekly newsletter on learning, digital and education from Oliver Quinlan, latest issue, subscribe
  • Digital Education Newsletter, news, views and articles about Computing and ICT in education aimed at teachers, advisers, Principals or anyone with an interest in educational computing from Terry Freedman, subscribe
  • From tomorrow to today, Futurist Gerd Leonhard's latest news, links and information on his presentations, latest issue, subscribe
  • Educational Technology & ELT Newsletter, The latest news, games, ebooks, free apps, special offers and research links related to educational technology inside and outside the English language classroom from Nik Peachey; latest issue, subscribe

Falling number of students studying design
It's not only Computing, design magazine Dezeen reports on the alarming drop of students taking Art and Design qualifications. "Exam results published today reveal a four per cent drop in students sitting art and design exams, and a more than ten per cent drop in students taking design and technology subjects."  It appears that art subjects are being marginalised by schools pressured by the eBac and a short sighted outlook. Politicians may pay lip-service to "Britain's Creative Industries" but their policies are more likely to ensure our creative declines.

The Katie Hopkins Tour
Schoolsweek reports that the planned tour of schools by professional troll Katie Hopkins does not necessarily go against the Prevent Strategy rules according to Anna Coles, a parliamentary and inclusion expert at the Association of School and College Leaders, as long as an opposing view is presented. Let's hope Headteachers take a more realistic view than sit on the fence Anna.

Tied Cottages for Teachers?
Also from Schoolsweek, news that the Harris Federation, multi-academy trusts is considering building up to 100 homes in partnership with a housing association in a bid to stop teachers being priced out of London.
This immediately raises some interesting questions, Is this empire building using public money? What happens if the teacher decides to move on?

We are always keen to review books, videos, blogs or podcasts by members. Let us know if you have anything in progress. We would also like to extend our panel of reviewers. Please get in touch with me if you would like to be a reviewer:

Our previous book reviews are here:

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